Posts Tagged ‘Social Media’

Kathleen Neal – my own GCMRS 2013 doppelgänger (sort of – it’s all in our names) – issued the above challenge in the name of the Monash Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies on 5 October, and Twitter exploded under the hashtag #MedFemList. My own list was as follows:

Octavien de Saint-Gelais (b. 1468-d. 1502), Translation of Ovid's Epistulae heroidum. Cognac, 1496-1498, Library of Congress Manuscripts Department, Western Section, Fr. 875, Parchment

Octavien de Saint-Gelais (b. 1468-d. 1502), Translation of Ovid’s Epistulae heroidum. Cognac, 1496-1498, Library of Congress Manuscripts Department, Western Section, Fr. 875, Parchment

Real-life friend and medievalist Dr Kate Mathis of the Women’s Poetry in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales project, admitted to blatantly cheating with a series of tweets organised by themes – primarily medievalists working on Irish, Welsh, and Scottish material. I responded with a declaration of my intention to cheat by writing a blogpost on the subject as opposed to several more tweets. Et voilà, the MedFemList Cheating blogpost, to meet my Medieval Monday obligations! (more…)

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I’ve just about managed to move forward into the 21st century – the opportunity to revel in Wimbledon without thinking that I should be rushing off to hear conference papers has been decidedly helpful in that regard – following a wonderful week in Leeds at my first ever International Medieval Congress. That said, I now have weeks of blog material for Medieval Mondays, as well as years of research material, just out of that one week. As an introduction to those weeks of blogging, today’s post contains my initial thoughts on the conference and on what I could do to be better prepared for next year’s extravaganza. (more…)

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Until I get round to writing up my account of the week just gone by, when I was tweeting for Voices for the Library, here’s a great definition of libraries. It comes via this week’s Voice for the Library, Hong-Anh Nguyen (Codename: Dewey Decibelle)

The great unsold truth of libraries.

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… for a week, anyway.

Voices for the Library

Voices for the Library

World domination needs must start small. Starting on Monday 13 May – just two days to go! – I will be Taking over Twitter through @voiceslibrary.

The Twitter Takeover began in the week leading up to National Libraries Day on Saturday 9 February, 2013. I was one of seven libraries to take on a day of tweeting through the Library Voices account, the purpose of the exercise being to fight against the closures of libraries and the replacement of librarians with volunteers by showing what we do and how we and our places of work are valuable, essential parts of society. The need to demonstrate this has not gone away since National Libraries Day; in fact, it is more important than ever before, as cuts continue and deepen.

As a regular user of public libraries whose local library has been replaced with a volunteer-run book-lending service, I only get frustrated every time I go in there. The lack of training and experience shows in every interaction. I look at what the service ought to be, I remember the wonder of the local library and librarians who helped bring me up (that is how often I was there), and I experience what this other place is now, and I realise that we need to fight harder than ever to stop this becoming the norm.

The more people that think about what libraries mean to them, and the more people who share those feelings, and act upon the need to keep them alive, both now and in the future, are a crucial part of Voices for the Library. Just look at the several testimonies to libraries on the website. This excerpt from Carola’s story of Orkney Libraries is typical, and shows how essential libraries are to the past, present, and future:

Carola's testimony, on Voices for the Library

Carola’s testimony, on Voices for the Library

I’m still working out my full plan for the week. I will spend some time introducing you all to my library world, but that’s not enough. This week is not really supposed to be about me. I need to talk about libraries and what they have done for me as a reader and researcher, how they have helped to bring me this far, and how I want to make sure that they are around to take me as far as I can go. I need to talk about how libraries and librarians must be there to help current and future generations on their path into and inside the library.

I hope to see you all on Twitter from Monday morning onwards.

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A final Merry Christmas to all! I hope that you had a lovely time with family and friends, and that you’re looking forward to Hogmanay and the New Year. I decided to fully embrace the #Reverb12 spirit and take a few days off from the phone and the computer to focus on family, friends, and food – all the important parts of Christmas and of life. It’s been great, and I’ve missed being online and on the phone much less than I thought I would, so I think that I will be repeating that exercise every so often. I also think I need to get a Nintendo Wii as soon as possible. (more…)

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Art Nouveau Labyrinth

Art Nouveau Labyrinth

I’m no artist; I haven’t done any drawing in a very long time. So I couldn’t produce art like the mash-ups scattered throughout this blog post, no matter how I wish that I could. However, I know that my writing skills aren’t too bad, so this is my attempt to create a mash-up of my very own, and in so doing to move forward one post in two separate blogging projects. (more…)

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British Library Centre for Conservation – follow the blue dots

I had planned to write my post on CPD23 Thing Sixteen (Advocacy, speaking up for the profession, and getting published) tonight, but I’ve just read the official post thereupon, and I have a lot of reading to do to write a properly considered response.

Fortunately, I had the honour of being invited to an event at the British Library on Friday morning, for Library staff and their guests, on the future of reading, organised by Liquid Information. It’s better to write my report of the discussions sooner rather than later. The event took the form of short presentations by academics, librarians, software designers, journalists, designers, and artists. They had been asked to look at the following questions: (more…)

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It’s been a long time since I sat down and spent a good few hours playing The Legend of Zelda, or The Sims, for that matter. I’ve always enjoyed these games set in whole new worlds, and tonight that is all I want to do. Yet all my consoles are safely packaged up back at the family seat, where they were put for fear that they would distract me from research work.

Valancy Westenra – my ‘Fallen London’ character

Fortunately, there are three online games which I discovered over the past year, and which I would highly recommend. The first of these, which I have been playing longest, is Fallen London. It takes place in an alternate London, somewhat Victorian in feel, and your story begins in a prison from which you must escape. You then navigate and build the game by drawing cards and by moving through “storylets”. It’s a social game, that you can play using your Twitter or Facebook account, and the best part about using the free account is that it limits how much you can play in one day. So your other commitments are unlikely to suffer. One of the best parts is that you can choose your own character’s name and background – I find that these games are something like writing, trying different theories and arguments. They’re about progression. If you enjoyed Choose your own adventure books, these could be for you. If you fancy playing Fallen London, look up my character – Valancy Westenra – as knowing other characters in the game can help you move forward as well.

Who has read The Night Circus?

The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern

I am about halfway through, and Morgenstern has created an entrancing world between the covers of her book. I wish that such a circus truly existed. In its absence, you can visit the Cirque de Reves through a computer game very similar in form to Fallen London. It is more about playing by drawing cards as opposed to through storylets, but you can collect objects as you visit the various tents. Again, you can use your Facebook or Twitter account to create an account. In the pursuit of a more coordinated brand, my character is called the Victorian Librarian. Again, join in, and I’ll see you at the Circus. Wear a splash of red!

Find the Future at the New York Public Library

My most recent gaming discovery is Find the Future at the NYPL. The official website describes it thus:

Find The Future at NYPL brings visitors to the Library together with players around the world to tap into the creative power of the Library’s collections.

It is the first game in the world in which winning the game means writing a book together — a collection of 100 ways to make history and change the future, inspired by 100 of the most intriguing works of the past.

Starting May 21, 2011, visitors to the Stephen A. Schwarzman branch of the NYPL can play the game with their personal smartphones or on Library computers. Global players will join the game with any computer that has access to the Internet. The game is free to play.

The game is designed to empower players to find inspiration for their own extraordinary futures by bringing them face-to-face with the writings and personal objects of people who made an extraordinary difference in the past.

The game starts with a special, invitation-only event on May 20, 2011. As part of the Centennial celebration weekend, hundreds of gamers will earn the chance to join a special once-in-a-lifetime event: an “overnight lock-in” at NYPL’s Stephen A. Schwarzman building. This “write all night” lock in will serve as the official kick-off for the Find The Future game.

All visitors to the Library or the website nypl.org/game will continue to be able to play Find The Future through the end of 2011.

The more observant of my readers will realise that we are in fact closer to the end of 2012 than the end of 2011. I nonetheless decided to try my luck and create an account to play the game. Thus far, and I have only played very briefly, it seems to be working. Presumably my gaming shenanigans will not count towards the book that it is being made out of the game. Again, I have chosen to be the Victorian Librarian as I play the game, and in deference to my Pre-Raphaelite geekery, have begun Level 1: A Call to Adventure, with the Lady of Shalott. I will report back on how we two get acquainted at a later date.

I am particularly intrigued by this last as a means of introducing people to a library and its collections, by appealing to their imaginations and getting them involved in the creation of something tangible. It seems like such a wonderful way to use technology as a teaching aide in libraries, and I’m looking forward to some virtual serendipitous browsing.

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Hide and Seek, by Follettina (Deviantart)

Hide and Seek, by Follettina (on Deviantart)

CPD23 Thing Thirteen is all about sharing, using online tools such as Google Drive, Dropbox and wikis. Their existence makes collaboration easier in a variety of fora, professional, academic, and personal. Ideas can be shared more efficiently across long distances, both within companies, departments, research centres, and clubs, as well as between all of the above. They have the added benefit of saving paper, and accordingly both money and the environment. When it is becoming increasingly normal to find variations on the text in the image below at the end of emails, the ecological benefits of online sharing tools cannot be underestimated.

Think before printing

Think before printing this email, from http://www.thinkbeforeprinting.org

I have been using Google Drive since it was Ye Olde Google Docs, long, long ago. At first its purpose, for me, was to backup important files, such as research papers and articles relevant to such research, as well as CVs and job vacancies and corresponding applications. As I took on the role of social secretary to a sports club where I used to live, I experimented with using Google Drive to share documents with club members via Facebook. It was particularly useful when it came to booking Christmas dinners – I could post up menus from various restaurants to let everybody see their options. Today was the first time since January that I logged into Google Drive; the most recent files represent “the life you lead when you can’t decide between research and librarianship”. The first document is one shared with me, and with many other librarians – the Agenda for the last #UKLibChat in which I participated, back in January of this year. The several PDF documents are articles taken from e-journals, all of which were relevant to my research for the conference paper – In this world, but not of this world? The sacred space of the library, the garden and the church. that I presented in Toronto just over a year ago, at the Ninth International Conference of the Book. The files relate to the further research that needs to be done to produce a journal article out of the conference presentation.

My Google Drive documents

In the Library where I work, we share documents with one another via a shared network drive. It works well, for the most part, and we also have our individual spaces on the same network drive. Its effectiveness is hampered primarily when a few of us try to open the same document at the same time; changes will only be saved if made by the first person to open it. I have yet to test out Google Drive’s functionality in this regard, but it could thus have an advantage over our current system of document sharing if it worked.

See what Dropbox can hold!

My main use of Dropbox thus far – over a year or so – has been as a result of a friend’s perceived need to give me a musical education. Said friend set up a specific folder which is only accessible to a few people, and doesn’t appear in the Dropbox public folder; I occasionally threaten to fill this space with music by Pink, but haven’t dared go down that route yet, as I have enjoyed the music thus shared with me. It’s been a pretty painless experience all round – I’ve heard new bands through it, and I have learned how to move these over to my iPod. The only problem is that I regularly get the message that I am out of space – the free account limits users to 2.5 GB. I suspect that I have gone over this limit through another shared folder set up by another friend who enjoys reading comics, and who knows that I, and another friend overseas have similar tastes. Looking at Dropbox as a collaborative tool to use at work, my comics folder has given me a brainwave. The name Sotheby’s Institute of Art should make it clear that we work with lots of images, and it can be really frustrating trying to send these by email, because of problems of file size vs. image quality. Again, we can use the shared drive for such purposes, but Dropbox has the advantage that the IT department would not then need to configure everybody’s own computers – laptops and home computers – to have access thereto, in direct contrast with the shared drive. Furthermore, it is possible to use Dropbox on a mobile phone. I think it more likely that I could use it to facilitate a Pre-Raphaelites-related research project that a friend and I discussed some months ago, for both images and text. Ideally, more on that some other time, but not until next year, I would think. On a more superficial, but, as I noted in my post yesterday, nonetheless important, Dropbox’s cartoons representing the possibilities it offers, are adorable. The Dropbox kite is my absolute favourite.

How Dropbox could work for you

And so I come to the final collaborative tool to be discussed today – Wikis. Obviously I know about Wikipedia, but in user education presentations at work, I tend to use it as a cautionary tale, telling students that they must doublecheck the information that they find there, verifying their facts elsewhere to be on the safe side. I have more practical knowledge of Wikimedia Commons, as regards finding images to use on this blog and in the Library. The official Thing 13 post mentions the librarians-specific Wiki, A Library Day in the Life
. I remember hearing about it a year or so ago, but have not yet contributed. I will do so the next time that the call goes out, and am looking forward to the opportunity to play my part in developing the understanding of what exactly it is that we do. For the same reason, I will be working on my contribution to the Library Routes Project this coming weekend. My favourite Wiki is the hysterically funny Uncyclopedia – I recommend that you look up the entry for your country. I need say no more than that to convince you of the sheer brilliance of this particular Wiki. Yet again, in terms of using Wikis at work, I say again that they are a collaborative tool that could be an alternative to our current “shared drive” structure. I’m particularly interested in Jennifer Yellin’s suggestion that a Wiki be set up to produce and house student handbooks, library resource guides and teaching materials. The production and maintenance of all such resources is part of my job, and it would be an interesting exercise to produce a single Wiki in which to contain this material, and to allow my fellow Library staff to proofread them and offer their edits.

As ever, the original CPD23 Thing Thirteen has given me a lot to think about, and a lot of inspiration. Perhaps I need a Wiki to keep track of all that I want to do following each Thing!

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Malala Yousafzai, 13 years old and seen by the Taliban as a threat

In yesterday’s post, I wrote about a small part of this weekend’s touristy adventures. Today, my parents have headed home, and I am sitting at the table, replete, tired and not really motivated to write about anything today. But just ten minutes ago, I watched on the news as Malala Yousafzai was put on a plane to the United Kingdom for urgent treatment that will hopefully save her life. (more…)

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